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July 16, 2005 -- Today the Trinidad & Tobago Express ran a short piece by Louis B. Homer on evidence presented to a local Commission of Enquiry about verbal abuse by physicians and other problems nurses face at a local hospital. The article, "Nurses at Sando hospital cry abuse from doctors," underlines the threat such abuse poses to nurses and patients, as well as the lack of resources and opportunities that are driving nurses abroad and contributing to nursing shortages in the developing world.

The commission is reportedly conducting a probe of the nation's health service. The piece notes that Priscilla Brooks, manager of Theatre Services at the San Fernando General Hospital, told the commission that nurses "face verbal abuse by doctors" and that "nothing has been done" despite "repeated reports" to the hospital administration. She noted that it was difficult to work in (as the report put it) "an environment of fear where abuse is the order of the day." Brooks also told the commission that theatre equipment breaks down regularly, and despite repeated requests is not serviced or replaced. She also pointed to a shortage of nurses with specialized training and a lack of promotional opportunities for nurses. Nurse Betty McKenzie argued to the commission that this lack of promotional opportunities was the main reason so many nurses were going abroad to work, and she recommended that the local health authority provide financial assistance for nurses to continue their education. The piece would have benefited from some comment by physicians and administrators at the hospital, and some perspective as to the resources available to the hospital and the local health authority.

This article points up the serious threat to nursing practice posed by disruptive physician behavior and the failure to take meaningful corrective action even after such problems have been brought to the attention of those with authority. Reports suggest that this climate of abuse and impunity is a problem throughout the world, and that it is associated with nursing burnout and poor patient outcomes. The Center thanks the Express and Mr. Homer for the article.

See the article, "Nurses at Sando hospital cry abuse from doctors," in the July 16, 2005 edition of the Trinidad & Tobago Express.


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